Spider-Man 2: Melissa Moseley
April 21, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

”Spider-Man 2” (June 30)
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PREMISE Sick of his alter ego webbing up his personal life, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) dumps his Spidey suit in the trash. But that leaves New York undefended when new villain Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) comes to town, sporting a bad attitude and four metal tentacles fused to his spine. Meanwhile, Mary-Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) has gone from waitress to soon-to-be-married movie star, while Harry Osborn (James Franco) has gone from Parker pal to lunatic, dagger-wielding Spidey hater.
SLOGAN A man will face his destiny. A hero will be revealed.
VERDICT The best sequels improve on their predecessors’ flaws — and ”Spider-Man 2” may do just that. Unlike the first movie’s Green Goblin, Molina’s Doc Ock could never be mistaken for a plastic action figure; his extra arms look startlingly real. A fleeting glimpse of a smooch between Peter and Mary-Jane is heartening — even if he is right-side-up this time. A

”Troy” (May 14)
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PREMISE War breaks out in ancient Greece after Paris, prince of Troy (Orlando Bloom), steals Helen, queen of Sparta (dewy newcomer Diane Kruger), away from her husband, King Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson). Bad-ass warrior Achilles (a pumped-up Brad Pitt) leads the charge against Troy.
SLOGAN Two worlds will go to war for honor and power.
VERDICT Based on Homer’s ”The Iliad,” ”Troy” is decidedly free of hobbits and wizards — but it does boast ”Lord of the Rings” elf Legolas (a.k.a. Bloom). Aiming for the same audience who packed the cineplex to see ”Rings,” the trailer emphasizes bombastic dialogue (”Every son of Troy…shall die!”) and massively scaled, computer-generated battles, placing relatively little emphasis on the film’s love story. Pitt, meanwhile, is ready to stake his claim as an action hero: ”Is there no one else?” he shouts, à la Russell Crowe’s ”Gladiator” battle cry: ”Are you not entertained?” Looks like we will be. B+

”Shrek 2” (May 21)
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PREMISE Shrek (Mike Myers) and wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz) travel to the land of Far, Far Away to meet her parents — a rendezvous that doesn’t go well. As Donkey (Eddie Murphy) puts it to Shrek: ”Things just seem bad because it’s dark and rainy, and Fiona’s father hired a sleazy hit man to whack you.” The hit man in question is Puss-in-Boots (Antonio Banderas), a hairball-plagued feline who’s inordinately proud of his shiny leather footwear.
VERDICT A narcoleptic Sleeping Beauty, a dive bar called the Poison Apple, a couch-potato Pinocchio wielding a wooden remote — we’re clearly back in ”Shrek” territory. Though it’s good to see Shrek and Donkey again, the trailer could use more laughs, and less plot development. And attention, DreamWorks: It’s time to send Smash Mouth’s theme song (”All Star”) far, far away. B-

”The Day After Tomorrow” (May 28)
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PREMISE The polar ice caps melt, and mankind is in deep, um, water. Catastrophic floods engulf New York and Los Angeles, a scenario predicted by a misunderstood scientist (Dennis Quaid, essentially playing Jeff Goldblum’s ”Independence Day” role). Also caught up in the disaster is Jake Gyllenhaal, who last faced the apocalypse in ”Donnie Darko.”
SLOGAN Where will you be?
VERDICT Director Wolfgang Petersen has created some of the most realistic images of global devastation ever — the shots of the Statue of Liberty engulfed by tidal waves are unnervingly lifelike. But will rattled-by-terrorism moviegoers find such horrors entertaining? The answer — for better or for worse — is almost certainly ”yes.” B

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